Have you ever sat down to a steaming plate piled high with whitefish, sodium benzoate, cracker crumbs, partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, high fructose corn syrup, artificial butter flavor, carrageenan, maltodextrin, dehydrated mushrooms, cellulose, carrot powder and artificial crab flavor? I did. And it wasn’t pleasant. Let me explain.
I had the pleasure of speaking at an event in St. Augustine Beach last week. They were just completing an eight-part series on Ethical Eating and I spoke about healthy cooking. I was the last presenter and thought the event was very successful. Of course, I figure any event where no one hurls anything at me while I’m speaking is a successful event.
But I digress…
During the course of my cooking demo, I held up a box I purchased in the frozen food section of my local grocery store. Crab Stuffed Sole. It promised to be a quick, healthy entrée for two. It even boasted “Original Classic Recipe” on the front. It sold for just over six bucks. I usually don’t buy my seafood in fancy blue cardboard boxes, but hey, I’m one to try anything once. Just ask my wife. (But please don’t bring up that night with the Cool Whip, hula-hoops, bungee cords, and that thing you have to plug in).
Anyway…this frozen food entrée wasn’t all that quick. (For something to qualify as ‘quick’ for me, I have to be able to do it faster than I can spell it). This dish needed 35 minutes in the oven. When you add ten minutes to preheat the oven you’d be pushing 45 minutes. So I crossed ‘quick’ off my list of adjectives.
But it had sole and crab, so it must be healthy, right? I thought so 'til I read the ingredient list. Oops. There was no crab in this meal. Just surimi…imitation crab. Worse still, it had no sole (there is no sole in American waters. True sole must be flown in from Great Britain or Scandinavia, and is, therefore, pretty pricey. What we call sole here in the states is most likely flounder). But this particular entrée had neither sole nor flounder. It contained fish all right, but an unnamed variety of whitefish probably caught in trawling nets the size of Rhode Island somewhere north of the Bering Sea or snatched out of a fish farm somewhere in the bowels of Thailand.
Okay, so my Crab Stuffed Sole entrée had no crab and no sole in it. But it did contain a list of 50+ other ingredients including tetrasodium pyrophosphate. I don’t know about you, but I’ve made it a point not to eat anything with the word ‘pyro’ in it. And I certainly avoid food with the word ‘phosphate’ in it. (Isn’t that what I wash my clothes in?)
I have to give them credit on one account, however. They did include calcium carbonate in the ingredients, which as we all know, is an antacid. TUMS, to be exact. See, they must’ve figured all these chemicals and artificial ingredients would make us sick so they mixed in some antacid as a pre-emptive strike. I'm glad they did. It worked.
I had to chuckle as I finished reading the many unpronounceable, laboratory-sounding ingredients and remembered the “Original Classic Recipe” claim on the cover of the box. Whose ‘Original Classic Recipe’ is this? Dr. Frankenstein’s? Bon appétit, Igor.
Now here’s a recipe that contains real seafood, eight other ingredients and can be made in well under half an hour. I’ve even left out the phosphates and TUMS. Oh, and there’s not a ‘pyro’ in sight.
By the way, if you want a creative dessert, I have some leftover Cool Whip and a few unused bungee cords. E-mail me…
BROILED GROUPER WITH CREAMY CRAB SAUCE
PREP: 5 minutes COOK: 10 minutes
1-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 (6-ounce) can crabmeat, drained and flaked
1/4 teaspoon Cajun or Creole seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
2 (5-6 ounce) grouper* fillets
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven broiler.
2. Melt butter with cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the mustard and stir until thickened. Add the crab and season with Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper. Cook until heated through.
3. Place grouper in a small, greased baking dish, and rub with olive oil, lemon juice, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Broil grouper about 4 minutes on each side, until easily flaked with a fork. Spoon the crab sauce over fish and serve.
Serve with Garlic Smashed Potatoes and Corn.
* Can’t find Grouper? You can make this dish with striped bass, black sea bass (flakier texture), mahi-mahi, pompano, lemonfish, catfish, or red snapper (flakier texture).